The holiday season is upon us – actually it has been upon us in the stores in the Philippines since September, no joke. Last night watched Holiday Inn, the first in our annual Christmas movie line up. We’ve been looking for “the perfect anchorage” to spend the holidays; away from towns but still within mobile. We have a few decorations strung up around the cabin and here is even talk about putting up our tree, so it is feeling rather festive.
Over the years my expectations about the big day have changed. It is less about what is under our wee tree – this year Steve and I might not even exchange gifts because we don’t really NEED anything – and more about connecting with friends and family and spending time in the galley whipping up some delicious, but simple, meals.
Yet, I understand that many gifts are bought and given this time of year. So, I thought I’d share with you a few things we use regularly in our galley to make it a low-impact and mindful space to live and work in.
These practical, simple things would make great gifts for the cook in your life, sailing or otherwise.
(Disclosure: I was sent some of these products for review, however all opinions are my own and I do not earn income from your clicks.)
Beeswax Food Wraps
I was super sceptical about whether beeswax food wraps would have a place in my tropical boat galley. I don’t use plastic wrap and honestly, I figured that they would just end up a big, useless sticky ball in my cupboard. They didn’t. In fact they quickly became a go to in the galley. We use these to wrap everything from boatmade bread left on the counter, to delicate lettuce in the fridge so it doesn’t freeze when it touches the cooling plate. Only using half a melon, pumpkin, cabbage or other large weird shaped items? Beeswax food wrap to the rescue. Got an open tin of tuna or piece of onion? Beeswax food wraps will not only keep it fresh but keep in the smell contained…believe me, I did some stinky research on this one. We started out with a set of Canadian made Abeego wraps and loved them so much that when Steve was in Australia we purchased more from The Perfect Honey Company , because buying local is important too.
Reusable Shopping Bags and Produce Bags
I am sure that everyone already has plenty of these, right? But, if you happen to know someone who is still clinging to the old single use plastic shopping bags then this is the perfect gift for them. We have used several different brands and styles over the years, but I find bags made from a ripstop nylon type of material most effective. They are super strong and they fold up small, so you can always have one in your bag, no excuses. It is nice to have both a carry bag style, we have been grooving on the BagPodz recently, and one that can be worn over the shoulder so that your hands are free, Steve loves his Chico Bag Sling. As for produce bags I have been using some tie top mesh bags that I bought at the local grocery store in Canada for years. They are strong, flexible so accommodate odd shapes, light weight and easy to wash.
I got a chance to test a couple different styles of solar ovens last year and was pleasantly surprised how well they both worked. Like any cooking technique there are advantages – no fuel necessary, moist heat – and disadvantages – long cooking times, overall lower “oven temps” – to solar cooking but it has found a regular niche in my galley. I especially like baking bread in a solar oven, the moist heat is very conducive to a good rise. Also a great gift for the lil’ cook in your life, a sort of 21st century EasyBake Oven. Check out my reviews on the GoSun Sport and the Sunflair Solar Oven HERE.
Hanging Food Dehydrator (Non-electric)
This neato gadget was a bit of revelation for me. I have long been interested in dehydrating but never had success with my DIY drying racks, not to mention the birds. During the dry season here in the Philippines I loaded my Food PANtrie up weekly with mango slices, banana chips and apple rings and just hung it the sun. In 3-5 days we had a heaps of dried fruit, no bugs, no rot. I made healthy snacks with almost no effort and stopped fruit from spoiling on the countertop, win, win. I wrote about my adventures in dehydrating HERE.
The stove top kind I mean, no need to waste precious electricity. And, yes they are safe. My pressure cooker gets used most on passage where the locking lid keeps all the hot bits in the pot and the reduced cooking times mean I don’t have stand over the stove for very long with the boat rolling around. However, it does come in handy for making chicken stock and stove top baking things like Saucy Mocha Pudding and GF Pinto Bean Brownies when we are in port. I bought mine 10 years ago and decided on the Khun Rikor Duo set – two pots of the same diameter but different volumes with a pressure lid and a glass lid. The 2.5L pan is one of my best and most used pieces of cookware, whether I am using it with the pressure lid or not. Still not sure? You can read all about how PC’s work and whether they are worth the investment, plus that brownie recipe HERE.
Crisp, delicious greens no matter the season, right in your own galley? Yes, it is possible, and easy – just soak, rinse and drain. Sprouts perk up everything you put them on; sandwiches, a stir fry, a salad of sad refrigerated vegetables. You can buy a fancy sprout mix or use plain old lentils. Some people like using a jar but I have always had better luck avoiding rot when using a specifically designed sprouting tray. Check out this article on Sprouts & Yogurt Making for more information.
Plunger Coffee Pot
The pour over method is currently all the rage, but while we were away in July/August I was stuck making coffee with a funnel/ coffee filter and boy did I miss my plunger coffee pot. There is no better way to make coffee in my opinion. Not only does plunger coffee taste great it doesn’t require any electricity, perfect for a boat. Bodem is a well known brand, and one that I have used before, but these days you can find the same quality and design without the brand name. I picked up my stainless steel, double walled insulated plunger coffee maker at a secondhand store in Fiji, original price sticker still intact. Not only does it make great coffee, but it keeps it hot for hours! Paired with some locally grown or fair trade coffee this gift will definitely perk up Christmas morning.
Knitted Cotton Dish Clothes
Thanks to my Mom for introducing me to the wonders of a knitted cotton dish cloth when I was back in Canada last year. I was surprised to discover that they don’t get super smelly, wash and wear like your favourite old tee shirt and are easy to make, only basic knitting skills required. There are a lot of different patterns, you won’t get bored making the same old thing and they come together quickly, so there is still time to whipped a few up for Christmas. I have never been one to use paper towels in my galley, but if someone on your gift list is then a knitted cotton dish cloth is great way to break the paper towel habit and reduce waste.
This one is a two-fold gift, haha. I always appreciate a good quality cotton or linen tea towel in my galley. Used for more than just drying dishes they also come in handy to stuff in cupboards to stop dishes banging around underway, to protect surfaces from hot things such as jars when making preserves and make a pretty table clothes for those wee cockpit tables. However, this time of year I also use tea towels to wrap gifts, avoiding all that paper waste. My very best tea towels have are secondhand found at OP shops throughout the islands, always lightly used, brightly coloured used and never costing more than a buck or two. You can’t beat a gift, and wrapping, that is practical, economic and mindful.
We hope your holiday are filled with good company and good food!